Delaying College


My DD is 18 and will graduate from high school this year. God bless her…she just isn’t much of a student. Her grades are “okay”…not BAD, but not very good either. Of course, all of her friends are talking about college and she has jumped on the bandwagon. But, she is starting to feel a lot of pressure about where to go from there. She has no idea what she wants to do…just wants a job that pays well. :rolleyes: I guess she’s not alone there…

I truly DO want her to go to college, but it seems a little pointless without having some idea…even a general idea…of where she wants to end up. And of course, it’s important to ME that she be open to what God might want (not really that important to HER right now).

I’ve been wondering about the possibility of taking a year off to do service work in some other area of the US (or possible out of the US). This idea hit me about a month ago and I just let it pass because it seems so NOT like her, but it keeps nagging. The other day we were talking about opportunities to travel and do things and I said “I think you should go do one of those “work camp” things where you go somewhere with a group of teens and work to fix up houses, etc.” I was totally surprised when she said she wouldn’t be opposed to that, but will need to work to get $$ this summer. So, she was at least open to a week or two as long as it doesn’t cut into her job too much.

What do you think about delaying college for this purpose? Do you know of any good resources for finding a place for this type of work?



There are a lot of good alternatives Jesuit Volunteers, Army, Summer work. Just make sure she is doing something and not just staying at home aimless.


My daughter sounds so similar. She’s never loved school and always had a tough go of it. (and was homeschooled all her life.) she’s currently living in a discernment house with other Catholic women. At age 20, she’s just returning to college. It’s OK. She has time. She’s been paying her own way and has been amazed at God’s special care for her.

here are some good links:

Jesuit volunteers:

National Evangelization Team:

Franciscan Volunteers:

L’Arche Communities for mentally retarded people:


It’s very common in Britain for 18 year olds to have a “gap year” between school and college, where they typically go abroad and work, either for money or to do something charitable.
This was unheard of when I was that age, and I wish I’d thought of going away for a year, maybe teaching English in a school in a third world country or something, before coming back to go to University. Sadly between school and university I got married to someone who was not good to me and I was thirty before I had the confidence to apply for uni.


Better she do something along those lines, or works part time and attends some sort of class or two at the local community college (anything that interests her), than to send her off to a 4-year, live-in college and get the bill for Cs or worse. She will be happier in the log run, and so will you- and your wallet.


Nothing wrong with a gap year.
But have her apply to the schools and when she is accepted have her defer attendance for 1 year. More than likely they will hold her spot…heck Yale holds spots for kids that do this:D


sorry I don’t believe in sending kids to school and shelling out a lot of money if they don’t know what they are doing there. more than school she needs help discerning what is God’s will for her life, and when she thinks about that, she will have a clearer idea of the best way to prepare for both vocation and career. many countries build in a “gap year” for volunteer work, travel, internships, work etc. make some groundrules–she has to work, pay her expenses, car insurance etc. no lying around the house sleeping watching TV and having her boyfriends eat your food all day.


You should make an appointment with a local community college or vocational college career counselor. If she lacks direction, they may be able to help. Getting some experience in the world through volunteering combined with the career counseling may give her some idea of what she wants to do. You can also contact the vocations directors in your diocese to see about discernment weekends for girls.


I graduated a year early from highschool and spent two years working. I learned a ton from the family business, more than I’ve learned in all my school and work experience combined.

If she is unsure about what her education goals or interests are, why not encourage her to enroll in the local community college? That way she can try out the academic world with very little risk to the pocketbook.

She could take a variety of classes and see what sparks.


I agree with these ideas. She can volunteer locally/ get a part time money earning job and go to community college to start getting credits and general classes, along with a taste for college and a peek at different areas of studies, while getting help through career counseling. Also, if she wants to volunteer or something, it doesn’t have to be a whole year, it could be a semester or even a summer thing (or summer/semester combined) and she could work/go to community college the other part of the year.


Umm… What works for me doesn’t work for everyone, but I regret the opportunities I had to make things faster, but didn’t take. That’s two: going to school a year ahead (I was April issue and relatively smart), finishing university early and hitting the advocate training the same spring - instead, I graduated in September and it was late. Obviously, one can’t predict the consequences of the former and the latter might even have been better overall since I finished with a better grade and started a PhD course, but all in all, you know, delays hurt. And I’ve seen people do the same year of university like three times, or change right before graduation and start over. Dear… I guess taking a year off is better than choosing hastily and losing those years by starting over at a later time, but I think it could be a good idea to start something she can at least get to some degree level even if she doesn’t want to pursue it any further. Besides, in my experience, the later in life, the harder it gets to motivate oneself to get a degree, as a rule at least, I think.


sorry I don’t believe in sending kids to school and shelling out a lot of money if they don’t know what they are doing there

Sorry, but part of the purpose of having so many gen ed. and elective requirements is to give the young student a chance to find out what interests him or her.


I agree with alot of the previous posters that are encouraging community college or volunteer work. Not sure where you are located but in the NW US we have a program called REACH. I had a cousin that participated the year after graduating HS. He grew alot in his faith and was able to help others grow in thier faith as well. Maybe a possibility for your daughter. I believe they make a committment one year at a time after an initial class session.

Personally, I moved to a 4 year college right after HS and ended up with a lot of loans and then unable to return due to loss of financial aid. The school was great about helping out freshmen, not so much for sophmores. So I ended up saying I would take a year off and work and then go back. A couple of bad luck incidents, bills piled up and I was unable to return to school due to needing to pay my bills. Hind sight tells me I should have gone to the CC which would have been fully paid for…oh well, it’s all part of life!

Keep praying for her. There are novenas that can be prayed in helping discernment, maybe get her one of those and enlist your family to pray it for her!


Thanks everyone for your comments. I do appreciate the direction.

I failed to mention that we live in a VERY rural area. The closest “city” with a community college is 75 miles away. This also impacts the volunteer opportunities locally…as well as the job market. She does currently have a part-time job and has been able to find full-time work every summer, so I’m not too worried about her just hanging out and doing nothing.

Thanks again. Feel free to jump in with any more ideas you think of!



I would still contact community colleges, state college, and vocational colleges about career counseling-- check with your local high school guidance counselor, they may even be able to bring people in to your school for you instead of you traveling.

You can also check with the major universities in your state to see if they have extension campuses or distance education. I know Boise State has distance learning, and more and more colleges offer extension classes. I looked up colleges in Idaho and found this website. They even have an electronic campus in Idaho that features classes from several of your universities:

I am also in a rural community, and although we do have a junior college many people get their four year degree through distance learning in the state’s university system.

However, mom, at some point your DD has to take the lead on this. If you do all the work for her you are defeating the purpose. If she isn’t interested enough in school to pursue leads you give her, don’t push it.


and if they don’t want to be there in the first place, and are not motivated to apply themselves, it is still a waste of time and money, and sets up a bad grade average which will hurt them throughout their academic career.


Oh, yes…THAT!! Absolutely! I agree, although I admit it’s hard for me to back off. Thanks for bringing me back to reality here…



I agree. I took the first year and half to decided offically what my major was but i made sure all my classes would count in any majors. This is easy because you have so many pre-reqs you have to take. I can also tell you that i had so many friends and classmates were you could tell that they didn’t want to be at college to earn and education but to have fun and hang out with people. By the time they got serious their GPA’s were shot and then when they start applying for Grad programs they had to explain their grades. had they just waited until they were ready to actaully start school instead of going just because it was the next logically step then they would have saved themselves lots of time, money, stress and frustration.


If she didn’t want to go, I’d say “don’t force her”. But since she DOES want to go, I don’t think I could force her to not try. The first two years are general classes that go toward any degree, so she still has two years to decide. And she’ll have absolutely nothing to lose. At the very very worst scenario, she’ll be more knowledgeable, and that’s never a waste! :slight_smile:


and if they don’t want to be there in the first place, and are not motivated to apply themselves, it is still a waste of time and money, and sets up a bad grade average which will hurt them throughout their academic career.

Since the OP’s daughter does want to go, your point is moot.

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